For the mother and son, who depend solely on agriculture, the panther attack came as an unexpected blow. "The thick bushes in this area are congenial for panthers. Some times, the wild animals stray into these lands looking for water sources," the Hyderabad DFO, D. Nagabhushanam said.

Fifty-year-old Balamani, along with another old woman, was working as usual in her crop field on the outskirts of Narkoda village, nearly 15 km from Shamshabad, on Friday.

She appeared to be normal but the fear of the panther, which was suspected to have killed a calf in her field two days ago, was haunting her. A feline, said to be a leopard based on the pug marks found at the field, attacked the cattle two days ago. While one calf was killed, another was grievously wounded.

Forest department officials told her not to move alone. “But we cannot afford not to visit the field and take up regular work like watering,” she said.

Cattle attacked

The old woman and her son, Naresh, own five acres of land on which they grow paddy, corn and maize. With a bank loan, three months ago, Naresh started dairy farming by purchasing four buffaloes.

Two days ago, he went to the cattle shed in the early hours only to find one calf killed.

Another one was near-fatally attacked.

“I ran in the dark in the direction from where I head the noises. All that I could make out is two animals -one big and another small- galloping and disappearing into the adjacent semi-forest area,” he recalled.

For the mother and son, who solely depend on raising crops and recently started dairy farming, the panther attack came as an unexpected blow.

They are slowly mustering the courage to come and work in the field again.

Buffaloes not eating

But two of the buffaloes, which apparently saw the panther attacking the calves, are not eating grass. “They are not even drinking water since the calf was killed. Without consuming grass and water, they won’t give milk,” Balamani said.

Meanwhile, Forest Department teams continued to camp in the area and search for the wild animal.

Two years ago, a calf was killed in Kavvaguda village, three km from here, raising suspicions of the movement of a panther.

Pug marks found there and claims of some villagers that they saw a panther led officials to believe it was a panther.

“The thick bushes in this area are congenial for panthers. Some times, the wild animals stray into these lands looking for water sources,” the Hyderabad DFO, D. Nagabhushanam said.

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